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Kerala Realised Infinite Potential of Tourism 25 Years ago: Tourism Director

Thiruvananthapuram: The infinite potential offered by the tourism scene was realized by Kerala as early as 25 years ago, according to P Balakiran, Director, Kerala Tourism. The state had moved ahead of times as it identified the revenue generation possibilities and the employment opportunities tourism could offer. Stating that Kerala was also able to integrate technology with tourism, he said the tourism industry in the state has already made use of various social media platforms to enhance the industry here.

Talking at the closing session of the 12th UNWTO Asia/Pacific Executive Training Programme on Tourism Policy and Strategy, he said technology has brought in a sea change in the tourism scenario of late. Saying that thirteen years ago he had come to Kerala first time by booking tickets through ticket counters and travel agents, he reminded that the scenario has undergone a big change. Travelers no longer take the traditional route to book while planning a travel itinerary, he said.

Balakiran expressed his gratitude to the UNWTO for choosing Kerala as the host for the event instead of opting for a metro like Delhi. On an optimistic note, he said that with this programme, Kerala would be able to see an increase in tourist inflows from the Asia/ Pacific region.

Harry Hwang, Deputy Director, Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO, said that Kerala, glorious with beautiful beaches, green lush and the lovable people, deserves the name God’s Own Country.

P Balakiran, Director, Kerala Tourism

Peter Semone, President of Destination Human Capital Limited, presented the final conclusions and recommendations that came up in various presentations and discussions on integration of technology and tourism at the five day programme. The training programme acted as a reality check, and at the same time, gave insights into the integration of technology in the tourism sector.

From the presentations, he concluded, even though most of the countries are moving ahead in the tourism industry, outdated laws pose a great barrier to them. When the technological world is efficient and fast-paced, the tourism structure, which should absorb the technology, has remained static. This reminds us of the Dinosaur Age, he criticized. Ministries and organizations that work for tourism in various countries should be updated on the latest technology.

Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing – APAC, TripAdvisor, making a presentation on Successful Solutions in the Melding of Tourism and Technology, shared various marketing, content generating and customer attracting techniques used by her firm TripAdvisor. She pointed out that notions like technology is for the youth and that it comes free are myths most of the people believe about digital technology. On the oft used phrase ‘Digital is the Future’, she said that digital is the present where everyone is making use of one or more digital platforms at a time. Most of the countries have beaches, sunsets, delicious food and snowfall. But to attract tourists, the uniqueness and the right audience for the country should be identified. Content that can attract the right audience should be generated, she added.

Harry Hwang, Deputy Director, Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO, and P Balakiran, Director, Kerala Tourism, together distributed the certificates for the participants of the 12th UNWTO Asia/Pacific Executive Training Programme on Tourism Policy and Strategy. The programme will formally conclude tomorrow (March 22) with a Technical Tour organized by the Government of Kerala.

Mohammad Rameen Aliqzada, Afganisthan; Wang Bin, China; Ramkumar Vijayan, India; Faezeh Behzadnejad, Iran; Cho Sunghak, Korea; Say Phalla, Cambodia; Ahmed Abeer Ismail, Maldives; Pauline Riman, Papua New Guinea; LE Tuan Anh, Vietnam; Masteru Nakamura, Japan, Kjaw Kjaw Lwin, Myanmar; Wahyu Duto Galib Indharto,Indonasia; Azman Azra Abdul Rahman, Malaysia; Gerelsaikhan Tsolman, Mangolia; Suifua Aferei, Samoa and Anton Dilesh, Sri Lanka were part of the 12th UNWTO Asia/Pacific Executive Training Programme on Tourism Policy and Strategy.

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